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Milling machine consideration questions.

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  • Milling machine consideration questions.

    Short and sweet I want a shaper or a milling machine. I'm learning the terminology about horizontal mill, knee mill, shaper and yet I don't know why the knee mill is called a knee mill or what the advantages of one or the other is. I know that the shipping kills most of the deals that I might find, but I want to concider any machine in my area that I can afford. I'd love to get a bridgeport II with CNC for around a grand. I think that deal is out there somewhere. What features are the most desirable? I know that I want the vise but what else should I look for?
    Machining on a budget,

  • #2
    I don't think you'll find that deal at a dealer or on ebay...I think that your only chance (especially for the Bridgeport name) would be a primary auction where people are there to re-sell the items and make a profit or a private party sale. You'll have to be prepared to move the item. When I picked up my mill (Tree 2UVR $1200) there was a fellow bidder who got a large Fadal? CNC machine for only $1400...but this was a big machine that I would estimate at least in the 5-7 thousand pound area. If you can move that much machine or find somebody to move it for you, you may luck into something. Maybe a roll back wrecker with a steel bed could handle it and save you bucks over a machine movers truck/forklift combo? To get the deal you're talking about you will have to look or be in places that other HSM's and small business buyers aren't or be able to move something they can't or live with a lack of convenience that they won't.

    I don't know what other constructive advice I can give you.

    From my limited experience the differences in the machines mentioned is versatility. I find the Vertical mill the most intuitively versatile. By that I mean that the axes operate the way I think...and that eases set up and getting those first projects out.

    With ingenuity a horizontal mill can become versatile especially with a large expensive angle plate and a tool holder mounted where the overarm would go. But I've really only read about horizontal mills and seen a few. I don't have any shaper experience, but it seems the least versatile of the machines mentioned in that there's no rotary tool motion.


    • #3
      As posted above you want a knee mill. the hobbist can't take full advantage of a horizontal machine although they are a nice machine to have they are much more limited then the vertical knee mill on top of that tooling(shell mills and sloting cutters) is not cheep where as end mills are very common and inexpensive. and with the right set ups a knee mill will do everything a horizontal can just not as heavy duty.
      But for about $400 to $800 you can get a 90* head arbor and dove tail adapter to convert your knee mill to a horizontal in those times that you may need one.
      as for picking up a cnc for a grand good luck
      I've never seen them that cheep unless there was something wrong with them like the drive were burnt or something.
      expect to pay at least a few grand and expect the machine to be old very old for cnc.
      Rule #1 be 10% smarter then what you\'re working on.
      Rule #2 see Rule #1


      • #4

        Hang in there lad, this is what you really want! Forget those Tommy Tonka mill/drills and Wibble Wobble BP's, Get a true universal:-

        or if that is too large, try this:-

        You will note the tables on these machines are carried on sub tables, which are mounted off the front of the column. This means that cutter positioning is perfomed by the moveable head; this gives greater rigidity to the table. Both these machines are true Vertical and Horizontal capable without compromising the design.



        • #5

          I think you may benefit from doing a little more homework on what you want. If you don't have a library nearby to help you with some terms, maybe you could try using Google and search rec.crafts.metalworking newsgroup. You can search for terms like "knee mill" and "shaper". You will get lots of hits. Read them and you might then be better able to define the features you need or want.

          What are you going to do with your shaper or milling machine? Fix your lawn tractor or do a little tool and die work for your local aerospace plant? That might help in your search for the perfect machine for you.

          "I'd love to get a bridgeport II with CNC for around a grand"

          Have you considered a mill/drill?


          • #6
            A shaper ain't a mill, and might cost you more than one.
            But they are nice.

            Me, no mill just a shaper. Does most of what I want, flat surfaces, gears, keyways, etc.

            It WILL do round surfaces, if the work turns. I saw a setup for doing some complex torpedo part that was semi conical and round. No idea why the shaper was the tool of choice, but it made the part.


            • #7
              Shapers use home sharpened tooling. A big plus when you are learning. I had several lathes and mills before the bridgeport. I actually paid less for the bridgeport and leblond than the last mill and lathe. NOW of course the advantage is I have a place to put a 6,000 pound mill and a 1200 pound lathe. A big plus.
              CNC's may not work so well with a home-brew 3 phase generator, something to think about also. I had to do a lot of changes on mine.

              Personally, I am hunting a shaper too. Resplining axles is one thing I want it for.
              Everyone here will tell you a shaper will not do anything a mill can not, except inside splines, but it does it with cheap tooling. I have as much in tooling for the mill as I have in the cnc mill.


              • #8
                Thanks for the input everyone.

                RR Man that looks ideal! I'd better start selling some of my old stuff, and make some room for one of those!

                I think that if I know what I want, and I keep my eyes open in my metropolitan area eventually I'll own a machine of one type or another.

                I've been inventing things on paper for years and now that I have turning, casting and drilling capability I'm missing the surfacing capability. I've been planning to build an engine of my own design since 1986.

                Here are two examples of what I've been looking at. One was in my area.




                [This message has been edited by SJorgensen (edited 05-02-2003).]


                • #9
                  You may want to consider a Van Norman mill if one comes up.

                  Much more rigid than a bridgeport and just as versatile. True vertical and horizontal modes.
                  A friend of mine has one.
                  One bad thing about them is the unique taper in the spindle. It's difficult to find collets.

                  As for cheap tooling like for a shaper, you can always use flycutters on a vertical or horizontal mill to avoid buying expensive cutters. Just at the expense of speed of cutting (one point versus many).


                  • #10
                    I tried to talk Alistair into a beauty he sent me a picture of (also an F3) - but he was asking if he could move it himself up to the shop - Gad! (He will be happy with the smaller German mill and S & B lathe though...)

                    I know I would take the F3 over a stinking BP any day!


                    • #11
                      Thrud, I moved my milling machine myself, but I ain't normal so they tell me. I drilled several holes in the concrete floor, dropped a hardened bolt and winched it into place.
                      Now the 10,000+ pound free lathe it was a disaster, I had to call in favors (help)
                      Stinking bridgeport comment, I like mine. Something about having a antique I can actually get parts for.. ha ha..
                      Are you doing OK? Eat more salsa.


                      • #12
                        Ibewgypsie that's a good idea on the relatively flat surface I have some concrete steps to overcome which I cannot see how you could winch it up steps without it toppling over so I may have to put my new things under the carport and make a small engineering shop there as a seperate venture, I will see. I would prefer to keep it all together with my other stuff on the one level although seperated in a different room,but can't see how regards. Alistair
                        Please excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease


                        • #13
                're a woodworking type, right?

                          Put together a stout "skid" that is as wide as the steps can hold, and as long as possible, with runners to span the steps. "hardpoints" to bolt to are needed too.

                          Bolt down the unit to the skid, and use bracing straps.

                          Then lay boards on the stairs for the runners to go on and winch the skid up with the unit on it..Starting up might need a gradual slope, to keep from stressing the skid too much. Pile up blocking for that part.

                          If you have to turn corners, you need to get riggers in. it'd be cheaper in the long run. But maybe such folks are not exactly available up there, it tends to be a city thing.
                          You must have some sort of "straight shot" up that hill where you could winch up the skid.

                          If you have a good view out your door, post us a pic or two. I only saw shop pics and a couple outside shots of the hill.


                          • #14
                            Oso if you email me personally I will send you a few pic's so that you can see the problem as I don't want to keep pesterring Albert with photo's regards Alistair
                            Please excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease


                            • #15
                              Alstair, send me a plane ticket.

                              Actually people lift heavier things all the time with just 3 poles in a tripod. This is people who are not educated and not trained. Farmers. I saw about a hundred trucks in Indianna and Illinois with Gin poles on the back, kinda like a home made wrecker. Yeah I know they won't get though the door either.
                              two cherry pickers? can you subtract the weight by removing parts? Can you hire locals who rig and move equipment normally? Sometimes it is easier to use someone elses head who has done something a thousand times. My neighbor unloaded the rental truck I had my mill in. He used a wrecker with a extending boom to lift it and sat it right in the door.
                              If all else fails.. sit it in the yard on bricks and pour concrete around it, then build a shed.. ha ha.. yeah. (I did that to a boiler once). that is what I would do if nothing else.
                              Knowing the purist you are by looking at pictures of your shop I know this is not going to happen.
                              I was soo dissapointed with the lil bitty mills I had before, but you have to consider all things in a purchase, including where it is going. I have the joystick hooked to my 2 hp mill now and it is the largest dremel tool I have ever seen.. like playing space invaders and dodging chips.
                              I wish I was closer, there kinda is a lil water in the way. And that cute scottish busty lady next door too.. Whoo hoo.. Gaelic? I seen a show once where you scottish guys were throwing some large rocks.. perhaps you can find them guys.. just don't have them throw your machine too far.
                              ( I hope you don't come and whip my butt..)
                              personally I would inspect the floor, see if it is okay, then purchase and dissassemble it till I can slide it up into the reinforced stairs. I would find out the real weight on the machine too. My machine was just supposed to weigh about 1800.. it was 6,000